A call has been made for CARICOM member states to hold frank discussions on managed migration to support each other’s developmental priorities.
Minister of Home Affairs and Information, Wilfred Abrahams, made this call as he addressed a two-day workshop on: Migration and Migration Policy in the Caribbean at the Radisson Aquatica Resort this morning.
The workshop was organised by CARICOM IMPACS, the CARICOM Secretariat in partnership with the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) and through funding from the United States Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.
Minister Abrahams noted that while Barbados was identified as the most densely populated country in the region, the Republic of Suriname, Guyana, Belize, Bahamas and Dominica were recorded as being the least densely populated countries.
“A frank discussion on how to manage migration can support those economies whose growth rate is exponential must be held in this region. No one should be left behind,” he stated.
He added that the region needed to consider the need for a regional population census to ensure adequate and appropriate resources to advance the Caricom Single Market and Economy.
Failing that, the Minister suggested having a harmonised approach to collecting, collating and sharing national data must be developed so the necessary analysis can be undertaken.
He noted that Barbados was presently undertaking a national population census to confirm as far as possible the actual number of persons living on the island.
“Recognising there are opportunities in Barbados, CARICOM and third countries, this census is critical as the Government seeks to position our nationals and all other persons ordinarily resident in Barbados to take advantage of these opportunities. Knowledge of the skills and capabilities of our people is critical,” the Minister outlined.
Highlighting the shortages of food supplies and transportation options resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Abrahams said CARICOM was moving in the right direction in seeking greater self-sufficiency in the supply of agri-processed foods.
But, he lamented there were not enough persons in the majority of countries to drive the food and production security agenda of CARICOM.
“I challenge you to explore how managed migration can ensure that these security needs are met. As a collective, CARICOM has perfected the area of functional cooperation….
“It is time to consolidate our efforts in areas of trade, investment and business. Each country has a comparative advantage and this must be recognised… Member states must work together…,” Mr. Abrahams emphasised.
He advised that the focus could no longer be solely inward, but must address planning for successful outward migration.
He also challenged those present to explore how migration policy and strategy could support the efforts. Mr. Abrahams described the workshop as timely, noting that a number of Caribbean countries were critically examining matters of migration.